Libyan rebel fighters are allegedly abusing dark-skinned Libyans and migrant black African workers, ignoring calls for restraint from the National Transitional Council.
Black Libyans and African migrants have been targeted by Libyan rebel fighters who even have a special unit for the purpose. The ‘Brigade for Purging Slaves, black skin’ have torched the homes of residents of Tawergha, whilst black African migrants are rounded up in Tripoli and thrown into prison, suspected of being mercenaries in the employ of Gaddafi.
Reports from the Wall Street Journal and Black Star News drew attention to the abuse dark and black skinned people were suffering in Libya, several months ago. The issue was rarely raised in the mainstream media. It would have conflicted with the image of Nato supported rebels fighting a noble cause if it was widely reported they were committing human rights abuses which were meant to be the preserve of the Gaddafi regime. Black Star News reports on the media silence, writing “Rather than concede that the side they supported in civil war is carrying out war crimes they would rather suppress the story.” It adds “The White House has yet to issue a single statement condemning this ethnic cleansing of Black people.”More attention is now being raised over the issue with the BBC carrying a report on “Allegations of abuse against migrant African workers in Libya by fighters allied to the new interim authorities.” Head of the National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, has called for rebel troops to refrain from revenge attacks, but his authority has gone unheeded. Since rebel fighters moved into Tripoli they have arrested hundreds of black people with no evidence, beaten men and women, ransacked homes, raped women and stole possessions.
A 16 year old Nigerian described her ordeal to the BBC, saying armed men forced their way into her home. She said "They locked my mother inside a toilet. Six of them raped me. They took our belongings and money. My father tried to stop them but they hit him and carried him away." She has no idea what has happened to her father.
U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr., has called for an investigation to be carried out by the International Criminal Court into the killing of black people in Tawergha, Black Presence reports. Additionally he has stated he intends “To raise this issue with my colleagues and condition any financial support for the reconstruction of Libya and its transition to a democratic society.”Meanwhile the abuse continues, raising issues over rebel conduct being out of the control of the new authorities. NATO, whose stated presence in Libya was to protect civilians, has not commented on the treatment of dark skinned and African civilians but the issue will have a significant bearing on the safety of African workers who will be needed in the reconstruction of the country.